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Combining programmatic knowledge with powerful video editing software, one adtech company is looking to help advertisers break through the ad break. As part of The Drum’s deep dive into the future of TV, we find out how.

With the sheer volume of ads on TV, digital and every other channel all competing for audiences’ attention, it’s no wonder brands commonly worry about being seen. Leading some to propose that advertising within TV shows, and not in the ad breaks, may be the solution.

Adtech company Mirriad says its AI ‘in-content’ advertising platform can scan video – whether that be a classic film, streamed content or an episode of your favorite long-running Mancunian soap opera – and identify surfaces shown on camera that might be suitable for replacement with an ad. 

“If you go into the content itself and you do this in a compelling manner, then you will be able to engage with audiences on a quality level,” says Stephan Beringer, its chief executive officer. He tells The Drum that the company’s tech will help advertisers work with the entire “content consumption canvas”, rather than the “small slice” afforded to them during commercial breaks.

The display opportunities its tech identifies could be anything from a shot of a billboard at the side of a road to a prop cereal box, while at the same time it is registering contextual information. Customers can use its platform to search through its growing roster of content for scenes and settings that match their contextual needs, such as scenes of families eating cereal for breakfast. 

Surveys conducted by Kantar show audiences preferred Mirriad’s in-content placements to spots in ad breaks. 90% of audiences said the placements were a natural fit, while 84% liked the format and 81% said it made a brand more appealing. Only 9% said they would rather watch a TV ad spot.

Kantar’s data suggests that the technique, when combined with classic TV advertising, also helps drive actual consumption and spend – compared with campaigns using only TV ads, Mirriad’s placements for a leading US carbonated drinks brand scored 7% higher for awareness, 3% for purchase intent, 29% more for actual consumption and 19% more for actual spend. 

Mirriad works directly with IP-owners to create inventory within content, as well as advising agency and brand clients on what in-content solutions might work for them. “We bridge between the content world and the media or advertiser world, via the agencies or directly,” says Beringer, who was formerly the global president of data and technology at Publicis Groupe. 

deliveroo side by side mirriad
 
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He notes that Mirriad is already working with Tencent Video in China, as well as brands in the automotive and food and beverage space, and says he hopes to open up in-content inventory to programmatic buyers. 

“We’re working with a growing number of partners and building more sophistication in terms of integration with the ecosystem. In the longer run, you will be able to buy this programmatically.”

Originally plying its trade in the special effects sector for Hollywood film studios (it won an Academy Award for its work on Darren Aronofksy’s Black Swan in 2011) Mirriad has been working on its in-content solution for years, holding almost 30 patents relating to the service. Beringer tells The Drum that its business today is totally focused on servicing the ad industry. 

As well as creating new inventory within television content, Mirriad has also begun working on music videos and artists’ social videos, enabling record labels and artists to better monetize their content. 

In February, Mirriad launched Music Alliance, its partnership with Red Light Management and B-Unique Records, to further promote this use of its tech. 

“For brands, it’s an amazing new opportunity because they can run their campaigns in the hottest content properties around – music is the most compelling content for young people.”

While Mirriad seek to increase the surface area available to advertisers, Beringer acknowledges the risk that poorly placed in-content ads could poison the well, especially given its ability to place inventory in older IP, including beloved classics. After all, nobody wants to see a Coca-Cola ad conjured up in the middle of Citizen Kane. 

Beringer says the service is not about using content as a canvas to run banner ads.

“That would be the wrong thing. What we do is contextual in-content advertising. It’s very sophisticated and comes down to getting the intersection between brand narrative and content narrative right. Basically, it needs to make sense and it needs to be enjoyable.

“That’s what we do. And that’s what we're good at. We will never, ever leave that path, because the North Star is always the viewer.” 

From late April until early May, The Drum is taking a deep dive into what’s in store for the small screen as we launch our Future of TV hub.